Saturday, 12 June 2010

Central America From The Ground

Now reunited with computers we can bring you some images from the last month or so of our trip. With the car sadly stuffed in a container at the port, we left hot and sweaty Cartagena and flew to hotter and sweatier Panama City.

We rattled through most of Central America in the frosty air conditioned confines of a bus. We only had a limited time in Central America so we chose to spend the majority of that time exploring one country. That country was to be Guatemala so we cruised on through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador fairly rapidly.

On arrival in Guatemala we headed straight to the rather charming town of Antigua. Set at a moderate altitude it had a very pleasant climate. Whilst reasonably touristy it certainly wasn't spoilt by the fact. It also had the added bonus of a free meal in one of the smartest restaurants in town (thanks to Tom and Tim chatting up the guy who owned the place).

From Antigua we went north to the pretty town of Flores, the old town of which sits on a spit of land reaching into a large lake.

We spent an afternoon there wandering round, taking a boat ride, swimming in the lake and sweating profusely whilst sitting still.

The following day we arose at 4am and got in a minibus bound for the Mayan ruins of Tikal. We'd heard great things about Tikal but having done Machu Picchu were suspicious that old-hands like us would be so easily impressed. We were wrong. Tikal was quite incredible. Nestled in, and rising from, the jungle, these giant ruins were clearly someone's attempt to show off.

Star Wars fans can be forgiven for confusing the site with the jungle moon of Yavin 4.

Being set in the jungle we encountered all sorts of plants and animals including howler monkeys, frogs, racoon type things and rather friendly tarantulas.

From Tikal we headed south again to Rio Dulce. It was just how you'd imagine a tropical river to be. Very green and lush with trees growing out of the river's edges and sweltering heat and humidity. We stayed at a place built on stilts tucked away up a small inlet and paddled around the rivers edges in dugout canoes.

We took a boat trip out to the Caribbean coast and the town of Livingston.

On returning to Antigua we visited a nearby volcano and attempted to cook sausages on a fresh lava flow.

Two days later the volcano blew it's top and brought the surrounding area to a standstill for a few days. Guatemala was then hit by a hurricane and a large building in Guatemala City was swallowed by a sink hole. By this time however we were across the border and into Mexico (country number 13). We stopped for a few days in the beautiful city of Oaxaca where we enjoyed a bit of culture, art and finally good coffee.

We took a trip to see the largest (in circumference) tree in the world - it's very big - a traditional rug making factory and Zapotec or Mixtec ruins - not sure which; our tour guide was nuts and I don't think it's wise to believe a word she said.

Having thoroughly exhausted what Oaxaca had to offer, time had come for us to head to the port town of Veracruz to attempt to reunite ourselves with our trusty traveller The Baroness.

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